Flu season preparedness: Understanding flu & tips for staying healthy during flu season

Posted on : August 31, 2023 by Clinic One on Flu Vaccines

Influenza commonly referred to as flu is an infectious viral disease caused by the Influenza virus that infects the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs.

The start of flu season serves as a reminder of the value of protecting our health as the days become shorter and the air gets crisper. A contagious respiratory infection brought on by influenza viruses, the flu can produce mild to severe symptoms and, in some circumstances, might cause hospitalization or worse.

While flu season occurs every year, its unexpected nature calls for a proactive and well-informed strategy to keep healthy. This detailed guide will look into a variety of tactics that can help boost your defences and reduce your risk of falling for the flu’s disease.

According to WHO, 3-5 million people get a serious case of flu annually and 290,000 to 650,000 people globally die of flu every year. Influenza remains a large burden around the world, because of an ageing population and a lack of access to healthcare and sanitation in many countries.


Types of Flu (Influenza):

Type A and B: Seasonal epidemics

Type C: Mild infections

Type D: Does not cause illness in people


Vulnerable Population:

  • Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
  • Children
  • Elderly individuals (more than 65 years)
  • Individuals with chronic medical conditions
  • Health-care workers


Signs and Symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Muscle pain
  • Malaise
  • Dry cough
  • Rhinitis
  • Sore throat


Onset of Symptoms

The period between when a person is exposed and infected with the flu to the onset of symptoms is typically two days, but it can be anything between one and four days.


Mode of transmission

  • Droplet – when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk.
  • Fomites – touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or possibly their nose.


Complications

  • A range of complications can be caused by influenza virus infection of the upper respiratory tract (nasal passages, throat) and lower respiratory tract (lungs).
  • Severe pneumonia (serious flu illness)
  • Sinus and ear infection (moderate complications)
  • Congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes (Serious complications)


Prevention of Flu

Vaccination:

The most effective way to prevent infection and severe outcomes caused by influenza viruses is vaccination.

Getting a flu shot every year is the most effective method. It assists our body in developing immunity against the flu viruses. It is advised for everyone 6 months and older, especially for populations at risk such as pregnant women, young children and people with certain medical conditions.

Benefits of flu vaccine:

  • Reduces the risk of getting flu by 40-60 percent according to the CDC.
  • Reduces the risk of flu-associated hospitalization and deaths.
  • Reduces the risk of chronic lung diseases, cardiac events and diabetes.
  • Pregnant women are protected from the virus both during and after delivery and during the first few months of the baby’s life.


Practice good hygiene:

Hand hygiene is a simple yet effective way to avoid the transmission of germs. Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, especially after coughing, sneezing, or touching public surfaces. If soap and water are not available, alcohol-based hand sanitiser should be used.


Cover your mouth:

Respiratory droplets from cough and sneezes are the primary medium of transmission of this virus. Cover your mouth or nose with elbow or tissues when sneezing or coughing to prevent the spread of germs. Make sure to dispose of used tissues immediately and wash your hands afterwards as mentioned above.


Avoid close contact:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick, especially with flu-related symptoms or stay home if you are sick. It helps to prevent the spread of germs directly. Avoid activities like hugging, handshakes and sharing personal items. Use a mask and maintain a minimum distance to minimize the risk of infection.


Disinfect commonly touched surface areas:

Regularly disinfect commonly touched surface areas like doorknobs, light switches, remotes and tables to prevent the spread of infection.


Tips for staying healthy during flu season:

  • Studies show that those who drink less than three glasses of water per day are four times more likely to get the flu. Recommended water intake is 8 glasses per day.
  • Research shows that our body needs 7-8 hours of sleep to stimulate an immune response strong enough to attack the flu. So, get enough sleep.
  • Load up on healthy protein-rich foods throughout the day to keep your system strong. Beans, eggs and yoghurts are great meatless options.
  • Hot black or green tea with lemon and honey is recommended.
  • Regular and moderate exercise will boost your immune system and overall health. Practice exercises every day.

Conclusion:

In the face of the approaching flu season, you have the capacity to take charge of your health and well-being armed with knowledge and practical methods. By following the advice in this blog, you can dramatically lower your chances of getting the flu and its unpleasant symptoms.

Remember that prevention is essential. Your strongest defences against this virus include getting vaccinated, practising excellent hand cleanliness, and adopting healthy lifestyle practices. Maintain a balanced diet, remain hydrated, get enough rest, and stay physically active to prioritize your overall well-being.


Key Points to remember about Flu:

  • Flu is an infectious viral disease that infects the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs.
  • Type A and B cause seasonal epidemics and type C causes mild infections.
  • Vaccination is the most effective way of preventing flu.
  • According to the CDC, September and October are generally good times to be vaccinated against the flu.
  • Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy, children (6-59 months) and elderly individuals (more than 65 years) are at higher risk.
  • Signs and symptoms include fever* or feeling feverish/chills, cough and sore throat.
  • The flu virus spreads through droplets and fomites.
  • Practice good hygiene and avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Maintain good sleep and exercise regularly.


 References: 

8 Ways to Stay Healthy This Flu Season. (n.d.). Ucsfhealth.Org. Retrieved August 24, 2023, from https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/8-ways-to-stay-healthy-this-flu-season 

CDC. (2021, August 26). Practice Good Health Habits. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/actions-prevent-flu.htm 

Flu (influenza)—Symptoms, treatment and prevention | healthdirect. (n.d.). Retrieved August 24, 2023, from https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/flu#season 

FluNet Summary. (n.d.). Retrieved August 24, 2023, from https://www.who.int/tools/flunet/flunet-summary 

Howard, B. (2022, October 3). ​4 Benefits of the Flu Shot That May Surprise You. AARP. https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2022/flu-shot-benefits.html 

Neal, B. (n.d.). 20 Tips to Stay Healthy During Flu Season. Retrieved July 11, 2023, from https://www.signupgenius.com/home/tips-to-stay-healthy-during-flu-season.cfm 

  


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